Today I was in session with a client and became triggered without warning and next thing I know, a giggled popped out when what I meant to convey was empathy.
I was shocked. I did not see it coming at all and immediately apologized to my client and told them, I just had a very human moment right then. Because that is the truth. I am a human not a robot and sometimes my humaness is going to show up in session whether I intend for it to or not. The best part was, my client laughed and said, no it’s okay, it was funny. (referring to what they had told me not my reaction to it.. or maybe both).
This totally honest reaction I had with the client and my honest approach to recovering from my human moment actually helped build rapport with this client so it all turned out alright.
I did seek out one of the other counselors after my session finished though to process what had happened. I knew it was not the end of the world but I have honestly never experienced that kind of trigger before with a client. We do not think about laughing at something as us being triggered but that is absolutely what is happening. We are triggered and react to it by laughing.
The counselor validated what had happened as something that absolutely happens from time to time and commended me on the way I saved it. The feedback I got is that it allowed the client to see that I am real and my authentic response and apology also showed the client that it is safe to be honest and authentic with me because I am committed to being honest and authentic with them.
It was a first for sure. I am really grateful for the learning experience, I am grateful my client was cool, and I am grateful for the validation and feedback from the counselor.
Lesson learned today, therapists are people too and it is not necessarily a bad thing if out clients are reminded of that from time to time.